The one-and-a-half-year-old animal was rescued by the Congolese Wildlife Authorities rangers earlier this month in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga national park in the latest sting operation designed to halt an upsurge in trafficking.
Baby gorilla Shamavu does not realise how close he came to being sold by poachers on the black market for $40,000.
The illegal trading, which is threatening the existence of the already endangered species, is being stamped out – this was the fourth such incident since April – but there are still many gorillas who are not as fortunate as Shamavu.
Dr Jan Ramer, pictured, said of Shamavu: ‘He appears to be quite healthy other than some parasites and dry skin.’
The CWA have begun to pose undercover in order to catch out poachers – and that is how Shamavu was rescued on October 6, in Kirumba, a town on the western border of the national park.
The rangers, led by Christian Shamavu – whose name was taken and used for the baby gorilla – dressed in normal clothes and successfully negotiated a price for the animal, which was hidden in a small backpack.
When the time was right, they arrested the trio of poachers for possession of a gorilla and Mr Shamavu told the Guardian: ‘It’s very likely that the mother and other gorillas were killed because it’s very difficult to take a baby gorilla from its family.’
According to the latest figures there are believed to be only 790 mountain gorillas left on the planet.